Friday, October 28, 2011

The Living Dead

So, during this Halloween week, you might now wonder what post would naturally follow the last two ones on scary ballerinas and scary witches. Well, scary vampires of course! Duh!!!

A lot of people thinks vampires are just the fictitious creatures created by authors and Hollywood - with Bram Stokers "Dracula" from 1897 as the starting point. This is not true. The legend of bloodsucking creatures of the night has existed for thousand of years, with roots in almost every country of the world. The ancient Babylonian goddess Lilith was reputed to drink the blood of babies, and some sixth-century Chinese texts talks about "revenants" - the living dead. Legends like this can be found in many, many different cultures, and they all resemble our European vampires remarkably well.

There is actually one school of thought that suggests that the very first vampire could have been Cain, slaying his brother Able. The Bible doesn't state how this murder happened, but in the Zohar, the group of books that are the base of the Jewish Kabbalah, it states explicitly that Cain bit his brother on the throat. So if you believe in the Bible, then maybe you should believe in vampires too. If you rather go for the Big Bang theory...Well...

Another part of the Bible most people know about, but doesn't really think twice about, is the last supper. The famous stand up comedian Eddie Izzard did a show where he incorporated a discussion between Christ and God about the thing I'm talking about:

Jesus: "I said, drink this wine, it is my blood."
God: "You said what?! But that's vampirism! Couldn't you have said: Drink this wine, it is a Merlot?!"

So every time, during the Holy Communion, the church goers literary drinks the blood of Christ...Normal...

In the eleventh century blood, and especially the blood of virgins, was prescribed by both witches and doctors as a cure for ailments. During the Renaissance the belief in vampires just grew and grew, and when the plague - The Black Death - swept over Europe it was easy to blame it on the vampires. One theory about this is that the people who died from the plague were being disposed of so quickly into mass graves, that sometimes sick people who weren't completely dead yet ended up in these piles. When they then tried to free themselves from the dirt thrown over them, it literally looked like the dead were rising from their graves...

Then we have the "real" vampires. Vlad Tepes Dracula being the most famous. Dracula means "son of Dracul". Dracul means "devil" or "dragon". The name Tepes - meaning "impaler" he received for impaling his enemies on stakes, where they sometimes hanged for hours before dying. Vlad was reputed to have his meals served to him seated amongst his newly impaled victims...

In the fifteenth century a respected French military officer named Gilles de Rais, was brought to trial for having killed between two hundred and three hundred children, whose blood he used in various experiments.

And then we have the so called "Blood Countess" - Countess Erzsébeth Báthory. Nowadays most people know her name because she was reputed to bathe in the blood of young girls - preferably of the nobility - to keep herself looking young. There's actually no proof of her ever doing this, but she was a sadist who enjoyed torturing and killing girls. She had four servants who helped her with this, they were all executed after trial. Countess Báthory herself was locked up in a tower room at her home, in 1610, where she later died.

Graves have been opened where the head of the skeleton has been cut off and placed between its legs. Holes in the bones has been found just above the hearts position. All to keep vampires from rising from their graves. And then we have the "chewing dead" - dug up corpses found with blood sipping out from their mouths (a common thing in decomposing bodies), certain proof that the dead person had been walking around feeding on others. To prevent this from happen a brick was placed between the teeth of a suspected vampire before burial. 

People have always been afraid of the unknown. And belief in different, both good and evil, creatures has existed for ages. It's always easier to put a name on something you can't understand, so there's someone to blame when things go awry. But nowadays, when science has an explanation for everything we all know things like vampires don't exist. Right?...

Well, this was very interesting to write about. But unfortunately I don't have time to educate you, my dear readers, about this anymore right now. The sun will soon be setting here in Sweden, and I have to go to work...


  1. Interesting set of photos. Going to work just as the sun is setting sounds like a pretty horrible job, I hope you don't mind it as much as I would. Excellent post as usual Miss Meadows, I really do love your stuff!

  2. Wow, what a great Vampire post with tons of creepy information! Loved it!

  3. Yeamie: I work different hours all the time, but mostly evenings. I don't really mind. I've always loved the night... :)

    Miss vintage love: Always glad to amuse and educate my readers about really important stuff! :)

  4. Great selection. Love dracula by bram stoker


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